For some reason, my grief has been heavy on me today. You know how we often say, “I lost my [loved one] last month”? Sometimes it really feels like I “lost” my grandma. Like I put her down somewhere and every time I go to pick her back up, she’s missing. And I think, where did my grandma go? How did I lose her? Where do I begin looking for her? She feels like something misplaced or accidentally left behind.
In some ways she feels so much like she is still with us. For example, the way my mom has agreed to go traveling full-time with us. My grandma always made my dreams come true, and I see that selfless spirit in my mom. Also in the way I’m taking care of my mom’s money now (with her permission) and looking out for her. My grandma made me promise her, on her deathbed, that I would always take care of my mom. That was literally her dying wish. She never stopped wanting to do anything for her daughter. She entrusted that to me… which is a sacred thing. So I now carry on that piece of her. My mom carries on the piece of her that made my dreams come true, and I carry on the piece of her that protected and watched out for my mom. It’s unreal, right? She’d be proud. She’d be happy. But good god, how I miss her.
So many nights in my teens and 20s I would lie in bed either in my grandma’s house or my cottage and self-soothe by thinking, “We’re all here together, my grandma and my mom and me.” I felt the shadow of my future grief even then, knowing that someday I wouldn’t be able to feel what I felt in the presence of my two rocks (mother and grandmother). And then when M came along, I would lie in bed and tell myself that the four of us were here, on our land, together and ok. And now we’re not. The time has come when one of my rocks is gone. No amount of “living through us” will ever really replace the simple comfort of her human presence. Nothing can ever give that back.
Last week we extubated (removed the breathing tube of) an eighty-year-old who was dying, so that she could go home on hospice and live her last days without tubes, enjoying her time with her family. The first thing she said when the tube was out, through sobs: “I want my mom.” Somehow I know that when I’m old, or dying, or sick, or all three, I will say through my tears: “I want my mom, and I want my grandma. I want to all be together.”
Nothing will ever be quite right again.